Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Geek's Dilemma: To party or not to party

An in-depth analysis of the conflicting thoughts in a geeky brain forced to choose between gaming and social life. Lucy, I don't think you read my blog, but if you happen upon this post, please don't read it, it is embarrassing to me.

So I was faced with a dilemma last night that probably shouldn't have been as difficult as I made it. Two of my girl friends were going to be playing some songs in an open band at a dance party kind of event. I will refer to them "the tall friend" and "the short friend" (the short friend is not very short, but the tall friend is 6 feet). To give you some perspective, I'm pretty close with the short friend, since we've been housemates since last September, while the tall friend is someone I'm less close with--we enjoy our conversations when we run into each other at work, she gave me a ride to Philadelphia once, and I've been to her house a couple times. Anyway, they asked me to come with them to the party; at the point of the invitation, our only friends going were these two and the tall friend's boyfriend. Their reasons for me to come were reasonable and obvious: 1) It would be fun. 2) They wanted a friend to be in the audience to hear them "make fools of themselves" (their own words) playing in the band. 3) The short friend was worried about being the tall friend and the tall friend's boyfriend's "third wheel", a problem that my attendance would solve. So this was a no-brainer, right? I should go with them.

Not a no-brainer. At 4:30 pm yesterday, when I was being asked to come to the party, I was happily playing a computer game online with my brother. I didn't tell either of my friends this, since they wouldn't have understood the appeal of this activity and probably would have been offended that I considered this a reason to reject their invitation. But there were a number of reasons running through my geeky brain of why I should stay home and play my computer game. 1) The party might be fun, but it would not be as much fun as playing online with my brother. Sorry, that's just how I, and probably many other gaming geeks, feel. I don't always feel this way, but the game we were playing is new to my brother and me, so the excitement of just getting into the game and learning the ropes has not worn off. This fun-factor was really the primary reason for my inclination to stay home, and the rest followed as further rationalizations to support it: 2) My brother lives in a different time zone, so the best time for us to play is usually Saturday in the late afternoon and evening. Going to the party would be giving up this ideal time slot in our schedules. 3) If the two other girls were playing in the band, that would leave me alone to entertain the tall girl's boyfriend. That might be awkward, since I had only briefly met him once, and he's significantly (12 years) older than I am. 4) It was kind of a wet and dreary day yesterday, and I was feeling particularly lazy and didn't want to go out at all. 5) I didn't know what to wear. 6) I hadn't eaten dinner yet. 7) My foot still hurts a little from when I strained it the other day, so dancing may not be the best activity for it. I probably came up with other reasons at the time, but that gives you an idea of my mind's capacity for excuses when geeky activity is at stake.

At 4:30 yesterday afternoon, it was the short friend who was standing in my doorway telling me to come to the party. I stalled longer than was probably comfortable, hesitating to make a decision. At some point in my stalling conversation (where we discussed things like how long it was likely to go, where the party was going to be, etc.), she exclaimed, "Hesitation is lame!" I almost rejected her right there. What she didn't realize was that I wasn't hesitating to agree to come, I was hesitating to tell her I didn't want to come. The hesitation was for her benefit, in favor of her cause. But I resisted the urge to turn her down on the spot, instead allowing the non-geek rationalizations to seep in. 1) It seems that I was caught with a moral obligation to attend. Two friends were performing. They asked me to come. One was pleading to save her from being a third wheel. End of story. 2) I can play computer games with my brother any Saturday. This may be my only chance to hear these friends playing together in an open band. 3) Staying home from parties to play computer games is lame. It may be fun, but I am not so blind to social norms that I do not realize that normal people agree that going out is better.

Ultimately, I agreed to go to the party (as I should have all along). And I had fun. It was a little awkward with the tall friend's boyfriend, and I wasn't entirely pleased with my choice of outfit, but there were refreshments to munch on and my foot didn't hurt me. And my friends were happy and the dancing was fun. I don't know whether I had more or less fun than I would have on the computer, but I had a good time and was pleased with my decision. And this is the important geek lesson: Gaming may seem more fun than a party. You may have more total fun staying home and playing a game than you would going out to be an audience to a couple friends. But you will be happier overall if you vary your activities, act like a loyal friend, and maintain some version of a normal social life. That's just how this world works.

...Plus, maybe now I can guilt the short friend into watching the BSG pilot with me. I have the DVDs, and I'm always looking to spread the joy.


Sebastian said...

What would you have done if those two girl friends wanted you to come along and watch their performance in Second Life, rather than real life?

Would you have dumped your brother then?

(If I actually had more than 1 or 2 real life friends, I could probably relate more to this story...)

(Oh, and what game were you playing?)

Ambles said...

This happened to me just last night... sort of. A friend wanted me to go to Karaoke, so I made up a story about needing to wait and see if my other friend was still coming over! Pretty bad, I know... but I just wasn't feelin' it.

(Oh, and btw, the boy above this comment sent me here)

Eleni said...

Hi Ambles! Yes, I've seen you in the comments on Seb's blog. Karaoke is definitely something you need to be in the mood for. Some friends convinced me to go to karaoke once when I really wasn't in the mood, and I didn't have a good time. You probably made the right choice.

And to Sebastian: No, I would not watch a performance in Second Life. I don't do Second Life. What geeks ;-)